Friday through Sunday evening check out a close encounter between planet Venus and one of the brightest stars in the heavens.
Face towards the western horizon after sunset and look for the brightest star-like object about a third way up the sky. That is Venus – also known as the evening star. Once dusk sets in and it gets dark enough look just underneath Venus and you should see a fainter star pop out- Regulus. As an added bonus check out the planets Mars and Saturn too. The three planets are lined up like a row of ducks – quite a sight too!
By Saturday evening Venus-Regulus will be their closest to each other – only 1 degree apart – that is equal to the width of your finger held out at arms length. If you keep watch into Sunday and Monday you will notice Venus moving off towards the southwest – that is the actual motion of Venus in its orbit you can watch happening right before your eyes.
The lead member in the constellation Leo- the lion, Regulus marks the heart of the lion and lies 78 light years away. A hot blue-white star, it is about 3.5 times larger than our Sun and is a young teenager when it comes to star lifetimes at 300 million years old.
It is about 150 times fainter in the sky right now than Venus, yet it is still the 19th brightest star in the entire sky.
Tags: Regulus, Venus
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If you have clear skies tonight then check out a really beautiful pairing of the planet Mars with Regulus, the lead star in the constellation Leo. What will make this event particularly neat to see is the contrasting colour between the orange-hued planet and the white star. The pair will be separated by less than a degree – 2 full moon disks apart.
Tags: Mars, Regulus
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Face the southern horizon tonight and look for the Moon pairing up with the lead star in the constellation Leo, the lion. Also if you look carefully you may notice that the Moon is also sandwiched between two bright star-like objects – planets Mars and Saturn – both a bit of a distance away from Luna but still a pretty show.
Tags: Leo, Mars, Regulus, Saturn
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Tags: Regulus, Venus
Posted in Planets, Stargazing, stars | 394 Comments »
Up for a skywatching challenge the next few evenings? Try to spot little Mercury hanging super low in the western horizon. The innermost planet will only be 9 degrees or so above the western horizon just after sunset. That is about equal to your fists width at arms length. Luckily faint star-like Mercury will be easier to find thanks to the nearby, much brighter star Regulus – lead member of the constellation Leo. Friday night the pair will be separated by only 3 degrees – equal to about 6 full Moon disks apart with Mercury to the right of Regulus. But by Sunday evening the pair has its closest encounter with faint Mercury sitting just above Regulus – only a half degree apart – equal to only one full Moon disk apart! A very cool sight – don’t miss it. If you have never seen this tiny planet, Regulus will act as a great guidepost in tracking down your target. Remember to be patient in finding Mercury – it is considered the most difficult of all the five classical naked-eye planets to see in the sky. Tip – find a viewing location that is clear of any obstruction of the western horizon and also binoculars will help a lot in spotting it in the dusk’s glare. As an added bonus to the far upper left of the pair, will be the much brighter planet Lord of the Rings, Saturn. Good luck with your planetary hunt!
Tags: Mercury, Regulus
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If you have clear skies tonight check out a beautiful crescent Moon pairing up with the bright star, Regulus in the southwest horizon at around 10 pm. Up until a few hundred years back, this blue-white star was called officially by its Latin name – Cor Leonis – The Lion’s Heart’. It is the brightest star in the constellation Leo and if you lookat the outline of the mythical figure, Regulus definitely does mark the spot where the lion’s heart would be.
Regulus is about 77 light years away and is larger and much younger than our own Sun - 3.5 times bigger and only a few hundred million years old. What you may not know is that it is in fact a multiple star system consisting of 4 different stars that revolve around each other in pairs. Also recent observations of this bright star has revealed that its spins so fast around its axis, that its shape is distorted resembling an egg. While our Sun rotates on its axis in about 24 hours, Regulus takes only 16 hours !
Tags: Leo, Regulus, The Moon
Posted in Constellations, Solar System, Stargazing, The Moon, stars | 238 Comments »
]Starting this evening (Friday) the near quarter Moon will glide past the brightest star in the constellation Leo. Regulus is about 76 light years away from Earth. Then by Sunday evening the Moon will have skipped over to meet up with the Lord of the Rings. The gas giant planet Saturn is about 1.2 billion km distant and will make a spectacular pair with our closest neighbour in the sky. if you have a telescope and have never seen Saturn then this is a great opportunity since you can use the Moon as a guidepost in finding it. You don’t need a big scope either, even the smallest one will do.
Tags: Leo, Regulus, Saturn
Posted in Constellations, Planets, Stargazing, The Moon, Uncategorized, stars | 2 Comments »